Sat, Sep 11, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Search continues for tourists' killer

KILLER COP Police are conducting a manhunt for an off-duty officer who is suspected of murdering two tourists, but the motive for the killings remains unknown


Thailand's security authorities yesterday hunted a police officer who was the lone suspect in the killing of two British tourists, police said.

Officers said they had found bloodstains and a bullet in the suspect's car similar to those used in the killings early Thursday morning of Vanessa Arscott, 24, and her boyfriend Adam Lloyd, 25, near the site made famous by the film The Bridge on the River Kwai.

The couple were both shot and killed while returning to their lodgings from a restaurant at Kanchanaburi, near the border with Myanmar, after reports of a heated row involving Lloyd.

An off-duty sergeant fought with Lloyd and shot him several times outside a restaurant he part-owned and where the couple had been drinking, said Colonel Ves Sombbon, commander of the Kanchanaburi provincial police.

"We are searching for only one suspect, Sergeant Somchai Visetsing, 39, and expect to arrest him in a few days since senior police officers instructed us to work swiftly on this case," he said.

He said the motive for the killing was unknown but Thai reports said the British couple had fought and the off-duty officer got involved.

After Lloyd was shot, the killer allegedly chased Arscott in his car, mowed her down and shot her two times, according to reports. The couple died on their way to hospitals.

Police went to the officer's home with a search warrant but Somchai was not there. The search team found blood stains on his car wheels as well as a bullet in his car.

"It's a .38 bullet, the same type used to shoot the victims," Ves said.

The pair had been due to return to Britain this weekend after spending more than two months in Thailand, according to UK press reports.

Kanchanaburi has been a growing destination for foreign tourists, lured by the fame of the notorious bridge near the border with Myanmar, war cemeteries in the town and beautiful waterfalls.

An estimated 16,000 allied prisoners of war and 100,000 Asian laborers died during the construction of the railway during World War II. It was designed as a crucial link between Japan's new territories of Singapore and Myanmar.

This week's killings came after Thailand embarked on a major promotion of its tourist industry. It is seeking to double the number of arrivals to 20 million by 2008.

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